2017 Book #86 – The Highlander Is All That by Sabrina York

51muLUDvxqL._SY346_Title: The Highlander Is All That
Author: Sabrina York
Date finished: 10/10/17
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Swerve
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Pages in book: 257
Stand alone or series: #4 in the Untamed Highlanders series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Elizabeth St. Claire has always been hard to please. Dreaming solely of Highlander men her whole life, no prancing London Lord can stand a chance at winning her heart…

… But perhaps a Scotsman can.

Elizabeth watches intrigued as the Highlander of her dreams, a Scotsman named Hamish Robb, arrives to oversee her season at the behest of her cousin, the Duke of Caithness. Elizabeth doesn’t hide her feelings for the striking Scot. But Hamish, determined to obey his order to protect the St. Claire sisters, steadfastly rejects her every seducing lure.

Believing that the debutante Elizabeth deserves a better, wealthier man, Hamish continues to turn away from her affection, even though he doesn’t exactly want to. Can this Highlander Scot resist the tempting seductress’ attempts to win his heart?

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Elizabeth St. Claire and Hamish Robb. Hamish has arrived in London at the bequest of his friend and business partner, Lachlan Sinclair (a duke). Sinclair’s wife is pregnant and can’t travel, and so he sends his friends Hamish and Ranald to watch over his four female cousins as they fight for husbands this Season. Elizabeth and her three sisters, Anne, Mary, and Victoria, are all very charming and lovely women. Elizabeth has always had a fondness for Scotsmen, even though she’s lived her whole life in London. She did visit Scotland once and found it to be entrancing, as she has also found the brawny men of Scotland as well. So when an especially handsome one shows up on her doorstep, she isn’t about to let this opportunity pass her by. And even though Elizabeth’s sister Anne doesn’t particularly care for Scotsmen (dislikes them in fact), she can’t seem to help herself when it comes to Ranald.

Overall I enjoyed this book a lot. It was definitely a quick read and so of the plot pieces were a tad unclear (like the timing once we got to the last couple chapters, it sounded like months went by but then we were talking as if weeks went by or days and it was a little confusing). I really liked that this story line incorporated the lives and romances of all four St. Claire sisters, it added an extra layer of interest. This was definitely a quick and easy read but still kept the reader interested. The story had a sweet ending and I thought this was a good addition to the series! I would recommend it.

Also make sure to check out my Blog Tour post on this book here!

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot. I loved how well the story lines were woven together. This was a quick, fun and sweet read and I would recommend it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

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The Highlander Is All That BLOG TOUR!!

Highlander Banner

The Highlander Is All That was released TODAY Tuesday, October 10th, and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! If you haven’t already seen it, you can find my review of the book under Book Reviews on my site (hopefully later tonight!). See below for more information about the book, a short author bio, and an excerpt! This was a good read and I would recommend checking it out!

SUMMARY

Elizabeth St. Claire has always been hard to please. Dreaming solely of Highlander men her whole life, no prancing London Lord can stand a chance at winning her heart…

… But perhaps a Scotsman can.

Elizabeth watches intrigued as the Highlander of her dreams, a Scotsman named Hamish Robb, arrives to oversee her season at the behest of her cousin, the Duke of Caithness. Elizabeth doesn’t hide her feelings for the striking Scot. But Hamish, determined to obey his order to protect the St. Claire sisters, steadfastly rejects her every seducing lure.

Believing that the debutante Elizabeth deserves a better, wealthier man, Hamish continues to turn away from her affection, even though he doesn’t exactly want to. Can this Highlander Scot resist the tempting seductress’ attempts to win his heart?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sabrina York is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of more than twenty hot, humorous written works. Her stories range from sweet and sexy to scorching erotic romance. Visit her webpage to check out her books, excerpts and contests, and download a free teaser book filled with excerpts and reviews for her work.

BUY IT HERE! 

http://smpromance.com/historical/the-highlander-is-all-that/

EXCERPT

51muLUDvxqL._SY346_Ach. This was going to be difficult, Hamish thought as the disgruntled butler and young footman—who carried their bags—led them up the sprawling staircase to their rooms, which, for some reason, were at the far end of the east wing, a portion of the mansion that was apparently very rarely used.

And by difficult, he did not refer to the mission the duke had given them. Not even to an unwanted visit to London.

But her.

He hadn’t expected to be this attracted to one of his charges, and it had hit him like an anvil.

It had been all he could do to maintain a placid demeanor. To not stare.

But damn, she was beautiful.

They all were, the St. Claire sisters. Anne was tall and willowy with serene brown eyes, and Victoria sparkled like a diamond. Even wee Mary was a beauty.

But Elizabeth?

She took his breath away.

Small and elegant with a spritely smile and bouncing black curls, she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever laid eyes on.

It was a damn shame he was here to help find her a husband.

It was a damn shame she was the duke’s cousin.

It was a damn shame he wasn’t rich.

He had nothing to offer a girl like her. He had no business even thinking about her like that.

But damn, she was beautiful.

“Well, what do you think?” Ranald asked after the butler had unceremoniously shown them to their rooms. They stood by his window and stared out at the gray London sky.

“Hmm?”

“How long do you think it will be before we can go back home?”

Hamish made a face. “The season is three months.”

“But if we get them all married off, our work is done. I say, having had a look at them, it shouldna take long.” He fingered the hem of the curtain. “That one is quite a stunner.”

Something in Hamish’s gut clenched. He had nothing to offer Elizabeth, but Ranald did. His friend had a title and the majority share in the business they ran with some of their friends. While the duke might balk at having Hamish wed his cousin, Ranald would be welcomed with open arms.

The thought made him want to pummel something.

Probably Ranald.

“They’re all lovely,” he grumbled.

“Aye. But Anne is exquisite.”

Anne?

Anne?

Relief gushed through him. He had no idea why. “Och. Aye. That she is.”

“Of course, they are all verra lovely.”

“Aye.”

“We’ll probably have to be beating off suitors with a bat.”

They grinned at each other. Whacking Englishmen was always a pleasant proposition.

The Scot Beds His Wife BLOG TOUR!!

Blog Tour Banner

The Scot Beds His Wife will be released this coming Tuesday, October 3rd, and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! If you haven’t already seen it, you can find my review of the book under Book Reviews on my site. See below for more information about the book, an excerpt, a short author bio, and an author interview! This was a good read and I would recommend checking it out!

SUMMARY

The Scot Beds His Wife is the next lush, captivating Victorian romance in the Victorian Rebels series by Kerrigan Byrne.

 They’re rebels, scoundrels, and blackguards—dark, dashing men on the wrong side of the law. But for the women who love them, a hint of danger only makes the heart beat faster.

 Gavin St. James, Earl of Thorne, is a notorious Highlander and an unrelenting Lothario who uses his slightly menacing charm to get what he wants—including too many women married to other men. But now, Gavin wants to put his shady past behind him…more or less. When a fiery lass who is the heiress to the land he wishes to possess drops into his lap, he sees a perfectly delicious opportunity…

A marriage most convenient

 Samantha Masters has come back to Scotland, in a pair of trousers, and with a whole world of dangerous secrets from her time spent in the Wild West trailing behind her. Her only hope of protection is to marry—and to do so quickly. Gavin is only too willing to provide that service for someone he finds so disturbingly irresistible. But even as danger approaches, what begins as a scandalous proposition slowly turns into an all-consuming passion. And Gavin discovers that he will do whatever is necessary to keep the woman he has claimed as his own…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kerrigan ByrneWhether she’s writing about Celtic Druids, Victorian bad boys, or brash Irish FBI Agents, Kerrigan Byrne uses her borderline-obsessive passion for history, her extensive Celtic ancestry, and her love of Shakespeare in every book. She lives at the base of the Rocky Mountains with her handsome husband and three lovely teenage girls, but dreams of settling on the Pacific Coast. Her Victorian Rebels novels include The Highwayman and The Highlander.

BUY THE BOOK HERE

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AUTHOR Q&A

  1. Are there any books or authors that have really influenced you and made you want to write? What about those authors inspired or influenced you?
    1. There are more authors than I can name who’ve influenced and inspired me, but I’d say that I rely heavily on Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic when I need inspiration to write. It reminds me to make my own art, to rely on the magic of story. The necessity of in my life and the lives of others. I do always love to read Christopher Moore, Lisa Kleypas, Lindsay Faye, and Rhys Bowen.
  2. Do you have any special rituals that you find yourself following when you’re writing? OR Take us through your typical work day.
    1. I couldn’t say I have typical work days. I do try to keep banker’s hours. But it’s best for me to write when I’m alone because I do have a rather embarrassing ritual. I tend to try out my character’s dialogue (terrible accents and all) out loud. I’d die of mortification if anyone heard!
  3. Do you usually work off of an outline while writing or do you tend to just start writing and see where the story takes you?
    1. I tend to know how a book is going to begin and end, but I’m not always certain of the road from point A to point B. That journey I love to discover as I go.
  4. Have you read anything lately that you loved?
    1. I recently read Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, and it’s something I’ve read again and again because it is both hilarious and helpful!
  5. What (if any) research did you have to do for this novel? What was your favorite piece of research you did for this novel?
    1. I’d say for The Scot Beds His Wife, my favorite research was for Samantha because, while I’ve done extensive research on the UK for other stories, I know very little about cattle ranching, cowgirls, or shooting pistols! It was the most fun I’d had in a while and was an interesting change of pace.
  6. What do you do to cure writer’s block? Do you have issues with this often or hardly at all?
    1. I’ve come to learn recently that stress is the enemy to creativity. I was hit with several crises at once in a short period, and it wasn’t like my drive to write was lessened, it was as though my ability to write totally deserted me. After struggling with this for a while, I’ve learned that gutting through the hard days can still be successful. Even if what I put on the paper isn’t my best work, it’s something, and that keeps me moving forward.
  7. Who is your favorite character in this story and why?
    1. I’d say I had two favorite characters! Locryn and Calybrid, the two old cowhands who can’t live with or without each other. Their relationship provided me with many much-needed giggles in a sometimes-dark story.
  8. We’d love to hear more about you! Give us 3 “good to know” facts about you?
    1. I am a video game nerd. On my days off, I love to play Assassin’s Creed, Tomb Raider, Uncharted, Horizon: Zero Dawn, etc. It’s what I call “active rest,” where my mind is resting but my hands are active.
    2. I’m pretty much prejudiced against all things “80’s.” I’m not a fan of the music, the dress, or the pop culture. Though I’m a child of the 90’s, my husband and friends are mostly children of the 80’s and we have many spirited debates!
    3. I’m only second-generation American, and I’d always been told my family is from Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. However, I’ve recently taken a DNA test, and found out I’m 50% Scandanavian and only 30% Irish. I’m mostly a Danish and Norwegian!
  9. What drew you to historical romance in the first place? 
    1. I started pilfering my grandma’s harlequins back when I was too young to be reading them, and I enjoyed the contemporaries enormously. However, the moment I picked up my first Victoria Holt novel, I was lost to the romance of the past.
  10. Have you ever been to Scotland or Ireland?
    1. I’ve never been out of the US! I’m terrified of flying, but I’m going on my first plane trip in 15 years next month. So that’s one step closer to international travel.
  11. Would you say that your Celtic ancestry provides a source of inspiration for your characters and settings?
    1. I remember the stories my grandparents told in their accented voices. I saw their paintings and their pictures of home. I love the mythology of the old gods, the old ways, and the traditional music. There’s always been something wild and romantic about the Celts, and I believe that calls to me on a personal level.
  12. Similar to your other series the Victorian Rebels Series as a whole has seen great reviews. What do you think appeals most to the readers?
    1. I’m so grateful to have been blessed with incredible fans and readers who have often become friends. I would say that not only do we women love to fall for a tortured hero, but we also like to read about other women who share the same hardships and triumphs that we do. I like to write about women who are employed, who know adversity, and work hard for their successes, they are both wise, capable, flawed, and feminine. These ladies can fight their own demons and those of the men they love. They are not damsels who need to be saved by their heroes. They become partners who save each other. To me, that is true romance.
  13. If you could describe the main characters Gavin and Samantha’s relationship in 3 words, what would they be?
    1. Contentious. Forgiving.
  14. What do you love most about this story?
    1. I love that a Highlander who considers himself the most wild, willful, and independent man of his acquaintance, meets a woman who possibly has him outgunned, in every sense of the word!
  15. As far as your writing goes, what are your future plans?
    1. I would love to keep writing historical romances for as long as people would keep reading them! Eventually, I’d love to sprinkle some paranormal historicals in there. Since I’m so enamored of Celtic myth, I’d like to bring the romance of some of those myths to passionate life.
  16. This book is all about Gavin St. James, the Earl of Thorne. What would you say is his greatest weakness? What is his greatest strength?
    1. I would say that Gavin’s greatest weakness is his vendetta against his family. He often lets his anger blind him to logic, and can make enemies of those who love him because he won’t let go of his past. I am certain that his greatest strength is his protectiveness of those he feels responsible for. His mother, his employees, the strays and outcasts he tends to collect. He cares for them more than he likes to admit. He has such a large heart beneath all of that rippling muscle. 😉
  1. The heroine, Samantha Masters, has quite the predicament on her hands. What was your favorite part about writing her character?
    1. I sort of loved her struggle with her secrets and lies. She’s an outlaw who really desires to be a good person and doesn’t quite know how. That was a great deal of fun to write.
  2. Your books tend to be a little darker than the usual historical romance. What is about writing about these characters that draws you in?
    1. Life has its darker moments for all of us. I think sometimes people go through darkness and feel that they are ruined by it. I like to write about people who go through that darkness, and are redeemed from it. Made stronger by it. It gives me hope to write about it, I hope it give hope to others to read about it, as well.
  3. What did you have the most fun with while writing THE SCOT BEDS HIS WIFE?
    1. I had the most fun using Samantha to humble a Scot as arrogant and handsome as Gavin. I loved that she had a wit just as scathing and a mouth just a foul as his. She refuses to be impressed by him, and that only makes him try harder to get everything he wants.
  4. If you had to describe this book in three words, what would it be?
    1. Rapid fire romance.

EXCERPT

51PMluAPISLChapter Two

Union Pacific Railway, Wyoming Territory, Fall, 1880

Samantha Masters squeezed the trigger, planting a bullet between her husband’s beautiful brown eyes.

She whispered his name. Bennett. Then screamed it.

But it was the woman in his grasp she reached for as he fell to the ground.

Though they’d known each other all of twenty minutes, she clung to Alison Ross as though the younger woman were the most precious soul in the entire world, and they sank to their knees as their strength gave out.

Alison’s hold was just as tight around her, and their sobs burst against each other’s in a symphony of terror, shock, and abject relief.

What in the hell just happened?

Not twenty minutes ago, Samantha and Alison had been no more to each other than amiable fellow passengers on an eastbound train, chugging across the wintry landscape of the Wyoming Territory.

What were they now? Enemies? Survivors?

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” Samantha repeated the words with every short, sobbing exhale. Though she couldn’t have said who the apology was to, exactly. To Alison? To Bennett? To whoever had been shot on the other railcars?

To God?

This morning she’d been the irate, disillusioned wife of a charming and dangerous man. An insignificant and unwilling member of the outlaw Masters Gang.

This afternoon, she’d been the new acquaintance and confidant to Alison Ross, commiserating over childhoods spent on secluded cattle ranches.

This evening, because of what she’d just done, of what they’d all just done . . . chances were good that she’d be hanged.

This train job was supposed to be like any other. Each of the Masters boarded on the last platform for miles and miles. To avoid detection or suspicion, Bennett, Boyd, and Bradley Masters would each take a seat in separate passenger cars.

Samantha would be placed in the least populated car, usually first class, as it was also the least dangerous. Once civilization completely fell away, the signal was given, and the men would strike, rounding up all passengers into one car.

This was done for the safety of the passengers as much as the Masters, themselves, as the gang didn’t generally rob people. Cash, jewelry, and personal items were never as valuable as actual cargo. The Union Pacific Railway didn’t only deliver citizens across the vast American continent. It delivered goods, sundries, and often . . . federal funds.

Even in these modern times, when it seemed all the gold had been mined from the rich hills of California, American currency was still minted in the east. Which meant everything from company payrolls, to government bonds, to cash and precious metals were transported by transcontinental railways.

And the Masters brothers, aspiring entrepreneurs, had decided that if the government wouldn’t allow them land, nor the banks grant them loans . . .

Then they’d take what they needed.

This was supposed to have been their fifth and final train job. It was supposed to have gone like the others.

No one harmed or robbed. Merely a bit inconvenienced and perhaps a little shaken. The Masters would escape with a few bags of money that the government could simply print again, a “frightened” female hostage as played by Samantha herself, and the papers would have an exciting story to publish in the morning.

The signal, both to each other and to the passengers, was one shot, fired at the ceiling, and then a command to disarm, get moving, and a gentle promise that all this would be over before they knew it. Samantha’s job was to act like any other passenger, and incite them to obey. Then, if necessary, act as the hostage to force compliance.

“People are sheep,” Boyd had always said. “They’ll follow a sweet thing like you to their doom.”

On this job, Samantha had been more comfortable than any other. At this time in October, with winter settling in but Christmas still a ways off, travel wasn’t foremost on the mind of the average American.

Her railcar had only two occupants other than herself. Alison Ross, a lively, bright-eyed San Franciscan socialite, and a well-dressed businessman more interested in his paper than conversation.

At first, Alison’s friendly overtures had vexed Samantha, as she found it hard to concentrate on responses when her blood sang with equal parts anticipation and anxiety. But, she realized, to not engage would be suspicious, and before long she’d found herself enjoying Alison’s company.

She’d not known many women her age, least of all friendly ones.

Samantha imagined that in another life, she and Alison could have, indeed, been friends.

Had she not been about to rob the train.

Had there not been more gunshots than were agreed upon . . .

Had Boyd and Bradley not bailed with the money, leaving Bennett to come after his wife, his white shirt and dark vest splattered with blood.

Oh God. What had they done?

Over the deafening beat of her heart, she’d heard Bennett say something about federal marshals. About someone taking a bullet in the shoulder. Boyd? And then a shootout.

Through vision blurred with tears, Samantha glanced at the businessman, dead-eyed and bleeding.

Her fault. All her fault.

Bennett had shot him without a word or warning. Then he’d grabbed Alison and put his pistol to her temple, because he’d known.

He’d known the second he’d seen the horror and denial on Samantha’s face at the blood on his shirt, that she wouldn’t have gone with him. That, while she’d have stayed married to an outlaw, she could never love a murderer.

“Come with me, Sam,” he’d ordered tersely. “Come with me now, and we will go to Oregon.”

It was in that moment Samantha had known he lied to her.

They’d fought about it the night before, when he’d said Boyd wanted to go south to Texas or the New Mexico Territory instead of north to Oregon like they’d planned. That oil towns were the new gold rush.

She’d railed at him. It wasn’t the life he’d promised her. They were supposed to go to the sea to make their fortune in lumber. He was going to build her a grand house on a cliff and make love to her while serenaded by thunderstorms. They’d only just escaped their desolate life on a cattle ranch in the high desert. She didn’t want to go back to bleak sweaty days beneath the harsh, unrelenting sunshine. She wanted pretty green hills, trees, and meadows. She wanted to live somewhere she could wrap a shawl about her and listen to sea storms toss rain against her windows.

Last night, she’d been shrill, and Bennett had been cruel.

But he’d awoken his charming self, randy as he ever was before a dangerous job. And she’d lain beneath his thrusting body, unable to relinquish the churning of her resentments and worries enough to appreciate his affections.

Then it was time to wash, and dress, and commit a crime.

Bennett had promised to revisit the issue. To make her smile again, to fulfill her dreams.

Problem was, Samantha had already lost faith in Bennett Masters’s charming promises. A part of her had begun to accept what she’d long feared. Bennett would never go against his brothers, brutal and backward as they were. If Boyd decreed the family was going south to work in stinking, desolate oil towns, then there was no other option but to do exactly that.

Boyd had once whispered to her in secret that, while Bennett might love her, he feared him more, and fear was always more powerful than love.

“He’d let me fuck you, if I wanted,” Boyd had threatened once when she’d been mouthy. He’d grabbed her through her trousers, his fingers digging painfully against her sex. “You’d best keep that in mind.”

She’d never forgotten that night five months ago. Because she’d told Bennett of Boyd’s behavior.

And, as Boyd predicted, he’d done nothing.

Now, when Bennett held his pistol to this helpless woman’s head, and ordered Samantha to open the door to the railcar, she’d looked into the eyes of her husband of four years.

And seen a stranger.

“You’ll let her go,” she’d reasoned evenly. “You’ll let her go, and we’ll get out of here.”

She’d opened the door. Bradley had the horses keeping pace with the train as it slowed around the McCreary Pass bend. She motioned to him, and he spurred his ride faster. They’d get off the train, and she’d figure out just what the hell had happened before making any hasty decisions.

“She’s seen us.”

Bennett’s words had frozen her blood as she realized that he wasn’t wearing his bandana.

“People have seen us before,” she’d said over her shoulder.

“Not like this, Sam. We can’t leave witnesses. She has to die—”

Samantha had reached across her body, drawn her Colt single-action, turned, and shot him between the eyes in the time it took him to pull back the hammer of his highercaliber, slower-action Smith & Wesson.

Only now, while clinging to a stranger on her knees, did she have time to think about what she’d just done.

She’d killed a man. Not just any man.

Her husband.

“Thank you,” Alison said ardently against her ear.  “Thank you. I know he was your man, but I wasn’t ready to die.”

Pulling away from Alison, Samantha noted the mark that Bennett’s recently used gun left on her pale temple. He had to have killed before, hadn’t he? He just . . . murdered that innocent man like it was nothing to him. He didn’t even hesitate. And then to even consider executing a slight and lovely girl like Alison?

Her husband of four years.

God, had she ever known him at all? Wood paneling splintered above them as a bullet pierced the wall, and Alison screamed, lifting her arms to cover the green silk hat perched above a wealth of mahogany curls.

Bradley.

Samantha’s head whipped around to see that he’d gained on their car, and had witnessed the entire thing. Luckily, of the four of them, Bradley was the weakest shot and only the second-best rider.

The distinction as the best, of course, belonged to her. Boyd was the gunslinger.

Samantha dimly remembered Bennett saying that Boyd had been wounded, and with any luck, those wounds would be fatal.

Bradley’s mount galloped closer, and Samantha realized that if he gained on the train, he’d be coming for her, and only one of them would survive the encounter.

She’d found her gun where she’d dropped it, but Alison stayed her hand. “I know a way to keep your neck out of a noose,” she said, her blueberry gaze surprisingly steady through the tears. “But we’ll have to . . . to get rid of the body.”

Samantha’s racing heart shriveled, but she and Alison stayed low as they rolled Bennett’s limp body the few feet to the door.

“You’re dead, Sam!” Bradley, unable to reload his pistol on horseback, was reaching across his saddle for his rifle. Which gave the women no time to pause. No time to hesitate.

Together, they pushed Bennett through the door, and the force of the train, the wind, and momentum pulled him sideways down the iron steps. The broken sounds his body made when he hit the earth nearly killed Samantha, but Alison slammed the door just as Bradley’s rifle had found purchase on his shoulder.

Samantha could tell his shot went wild, and waited a few eternal seconds for another.

Alison gathered her wealth of skirts and knelt on a seat, peeking through the window. “He’s stopped.” She breathed in obvious relief. “He’s stopped for your—for the body.”

It was only then that Samantha began to shake. Great, bone-rattling tremors coursed through her. All warmth leached out of her, and she slumped into a seat knowing her freezing limbs wouldn’t hold her weight for much longer.

Resolutely, Alison Ross claimed the seat across from her. A bone structure as sharp and perfect as hers was only accentuated by pink blush and rouged, full lips. Emeralds swayed and twinkled in her ears, catching the light as she leaned toward Samantha.

“He called you Sam,” she noted in a sweet voice that contrasted with her sharp tone. “That’s your name?”

“S-S-Samantha,” she managed through rattling teeth. “H-his brothers. T-they’re going to kill me. I’d rather hang.”

“You told me you grew up on a cattle ranch. Was this the truth?”

Samantha nodded, wondering if she’d ever be able to breathe again. Assaulted by the picture of Bennett’s handsome face marred by a perfectly round hole between his eyes.

“You can shoot, obviously. Can you ride, herd cattle, work figures?”

She nodded again, before the absurdity of Alison’s question registered. “W-why are you being kind to me? My—my husband almost—” She couldn’t bring herself to say it. It was too horrible.

In spite of everything, a corner of Alison’s painted mouth lifted at Samantha’s expression. “Where I come from, in my country, saving a life is no small debt. Also, in my savage part of the world, from the time we’re very, very young one law is paramount to all others. Tha an lagh comraich.”

Comraich?” Samantha blinked rapidly at the lovely, obviously wealthy woman. Either she’d gone mad, or Alison was speaking in tongues.

“It means sanctuary.”

Shaking her head, Samantha tried to understand the woman. That word had no meaning to her. What was Alison talking about, her country? She didn’t look or sound at all like an immigrant. Was she not American? Had she not said she had a fiancé in San Francisco? That her family had been wealthy ranchers and she was forced to travel east to settle a land dispute?

“I don’t know what you’ve been through, or what has happened to bring us to this place, but I think we can help each other,” the elegant woman was saying.

“I’m lost,” were the only words Samantha could conjure. Hopelessly, incredibly lost. Adrift. Misplaced. In every conceivable way.

Alison’s gaze gentled. “Tell me, Samantha, have you ever been to Scotland?”

 

Copyright © 2017 by Kerrigan Byrne and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

 

2017 Book #66 – Leave The Night On by Laura Trentham

519Uqdwv8ELTitle: Leave The Night On
Author: Laura Trentham
Date finished: 8/3/17
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
Pages in book: 331
Stand alone or series: #4 in the Cottonbloom series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Love, betrayal, and sweet revenge—life in Cottonbloom is about to get a whole lot hotter . . .

Sutton Mize is known for lavishing attention on the customers who flock to her boutique on the wealthy side of her Mississippi town. So when she finds a lace thong in her fiancé’s classic cherry-red Camaro, she knows just who she sold it to: her own best friend. In an instant, Sutton’s whole world goes up in flames. . .

Wyatt Abbott has harbored a crush on Sutton since he was a young kid from the other side of the tracks. He witnessed Sutton’s shocking discovery in the Camaro at his family-owned garage—and it made him angry. What kind of man could take lovely, gorgeous Sutton for granted? But then Sutton comes up with an idea: Why not give her betrothed a taste of his own medicine and pretend that she’s got a lover of her own? Wyatt is more than happy to play the hot-and-heavy boyfriend. But what begins as a fictional affair soon develops into something more real, and more passionate, than either Sutton or Wyatt could have imagined. Could it be that true love has been waiting under the hood all along?

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Wyatt Abbott, a mechanic, and Sutton Mize, a judge’s daughter. Wyatt has had a crush on Sutton since they were kids, but being from the wrong side of Cottonbloom, he never acted on it. Well that isn’t entirely true, he acted on it in the sense that, like a young boy does, he teased her and played pranks on her, but Sutton appropriately interpreted this as him being mean rather than him liking her. Now that they’re all grown, Sutton brings her fiance’s car into Wyatt’s family shop to get renovated. She’s completely thrown for a loop when she finds another woman’s panties under the front seat of the car. She’s thrown for an even bigger loop when her fiance (Andrew) admits to everything she feared, and so in a spur-of-the-moment decision Sutton tells Andrew that she doesn’t really care anyway since she’s been fooling around with Wyatt. And so begins a tangled web of lies that really only end up acting as a cover for Sutton and Wyatt’s growing infatuation. But with a relationship that began on so many unfounded facts (aka lies), can they really build something lasting?

Overall I like this book okay. It was a pretty solid read for a romance novel, it didn’t do anything to wow or surprise me but at the same time I did enjoy it for the most part. Some of the conversations are a bit cheesy, and the miscommunication between the hero and heroine was frustrating since the reader can read their thoughts the whole time. Books like that I always get frustrated thinking ‘if you could just be honest with each other we wouldn’t have these issues.’ Maybe that’s something that we as humans should strive more for is being honest with people around us whether we know them super well or not. But I think that’s a talk for another time. Anyways Wyatt and Sutton’s love story was sweet and cute and I like the setting of the book especially. This one had a bit of a Grease (like the musical) feel to it since the goody-two-shoes girl is a good influence on the guy and the guy is a little bit of a bad influence on the girl (just enough to let her experience some different things). In the end they develop great affection for each other and it’s a pretty good love story. I would recommend, especially in connection with the series, which I enjoy.

 

The bottom line: I thought this was a fairly good romance novel. I think the series overall is pretty cute, I would recommend it.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #58 – I Have Never by Camilla Isley

51FhWUoFAkLTitle: I Have Never
Author: Camilla Isley
Date finished: 7/12/17
Genre: Contemporary romance, romantic comedy
Publisher: Pink Bloom Press
Publication Date: July 13, 2017
Pages in book: 191
Stand alone or series: #2 in the First Comes Love series
Where I got the book from: Author/publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Have you ever wondered what might have been?

Twenty-nine-year-old Blair Walker is a girl with a plan, or more a girl with a list. A list of dos and don’ts to live the perfect life, land a dream career, and marry Mr. Right.
But when Blair loses her job and gets dumped by her boyfriend all in one day, she starts to wonder if she’s had it all wrong. And what better way to find out than experience everything the list forbade?
*Never Lie
*Never Pick a Fight
*Never Make a Scene
*Never Make the First Move
*Never Make Impulse Decisions
*Never Mix Business and Pleasure…
With hilarious consequences, Blair will discover some items are trickier to tick off than she’d thought…
I Have Never is a wonderful chick lit beach read and a fabulous office romance. A laugh out loud romantic comedy perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk, Sophie Kinsella, and Mhairi McFarlane.
First Comes Love is a series of interconnected romantic novels. However, each book in the series can be read as a standalone novel.

My rating: 4.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Blair Walker, who when we first meet her is convinced that today will be the day she not only gets promoted but also gets engaged. Unfortunately for Blair, neither of those are the case. Instead she ends up fired and dumped and unsure where to go from here. Blair has always lived by her own set of “rules,” convinced that if she avoids doing certain things in life (getting arrested, getting drunk, sleeping with a guy on the first date, etc) that everything will work out for her. But now that her life has basically crashed and burned around her, she decides to do everything possible on this list that has betrayed her. Along the way she acquires a new boss, Richard Stratton, who is amazingly handsome but also amazingly commitment-phobic, a new group of work friends and a new lease on life.
Overall I just loved this book. The book immediately draws you in and engages you in Blair’s life and her character. I was hooked right from the very beginning and I didn’t want to put it down. The plot line was just so emotionally satisfying, at each twist along Blair’s road to freedom I found myself rooting for her to win and to come out on top! Plus the book was hilarious, all the hi-jinks that Blair ended up getting herself into were so funny and I loved her work group at her new office. I’m also really interested in Nikki’s story (Blair’s roommate) and can’t wait to hear when that will be released. I liked the plot of this book as well, following along with the list. The premise behind this  reminded me a little of another book I read last year (Thirty Days to Thirty) mostly because of the whole crashing and burning thing at the beginning and the list aspect. I especially liked that with this story, the list was more like a reverse list, it was about Blair breaking through the ceilings that she had set for herself in life for what she (or really her mom) believed was proper.  This was a quick story and an entertaining and engaging read and I would highly recommend!

The bottom line: I just loved this book, Blair was an easy to like character. I was rooting for her through the whole book! The story was a great series of ups and downs of emotions and was extremely satisfying. Just loved this book, I would definitely recommend.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

I Have Never BLOG TOUR!!

I-have-never

I Have Never by Camilla Isley was released this week (July 13th) and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! If you haven’t already seen it, you can find my review of the book under Book Reviews on my site. See below for more information about the book, a short author bio, and an excerpt!!! I loved this book and I definitely recommend everyone should read it!

Title: I Have Never
Author: Camilla Isley
Release Date: July 13th, 2017
Genre: Chick Lit

Book-Blurb-1-1

Twenty-nine-year-old Blair Walker is a girl with a plan, or more a girl with a list. A list of dos and don’ts to live the perfect life, land a dream career, and marry Mr. Right.

When Blair loses her job and gets dumped by her boyfriend all in one day, she starts to wonder if she’s had it all wrong. And what better way to find out than experience everything the list forbade?

With hilarious consequences, Blair will discover some items are trickier to tick off than she’d thought…

A laugh out loud romantic comedy perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk, Sophie Kinsella, and Mhairi McFarlane. First Comes Love is a series of interconnected romantic novels. However, each book in the series can be read as a standalone novel.

Book-Blurb-2-1

Goodreads | AmazonUS | AmazonUK | Google Play | Kobo | B&N | Apple

Book-Blurb-3-1

Camilla is an engineer turned writer after she quit her job to follow her husband in an adventure abroad.
She’s a cat lover, coffee addict, and shoe hoarder. Besides writing, she loves reading—duh!—cooking, watching bad TV, and going to the movies—popcorn, please. She’s a bit of a foodie, nothing too serious. A keen traveler, Camilla knows mosquitoes play a role in the ecosystem, and she doesn’t want to starve all those frog princes out there, but she could really live without them.

Website | Twitter: @camillaisley | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

EXCERPT

Two

Never Get Drunk

51FhWUoFAkLMy entire body aches. Even the tips of my hair are in pain. Instead of blood, it feels like acid is pumping through my veins, and my lids have been replaced by sandpaper. What’s happening to me?

I try to move. Easier thought than done. My muscles feel like Jell-O. I’m stuck lying on something soft, something that smells like a cold winter day: pinecones and rain. Slowly, I open my eyes. Daylight stabs my pupils, sending tendrils of pain through my brain. Where am I? In a bedroom, it seems. Whose bedroom? Ah, that’s the question.

Panic gnaws at my stomach, followed by a flood of nausea. I turn to one side and spot a glass of water and a blister of Aleve on a nightstand. A lifeline. I pop two pills and drain the water before collapsing back on the bed.

Who’s bed? Oh, crap… I’m in someone’s bed, in my underwear, and I’ve absolutely no idea how I got here.

The last thing I remember is walking into a bar determined to tackle the next item on the list: never get drunk.

Ding-dong. Mr. Hangover, we meet at last… Not sure I like you. I close my eyes hoping the Aleve will act quickly.

When I open them again, I’ve no clue how much time has passed—a minute or an hour—but at least I’m slightly better. Well enough to roll over and retrieve my discarded clothes from the floor. There’s my bag, too, and I always carry a compact mirror. Face damage assessment time. Gingerly, I flip the little metallic lid open. I’ve got panda eyes, but it’s nothing some makeup remover wipes can’t fix. The cool touch of the damp cotton is heavenly on my heated skin as I scrub myself clean. The soothing moisture helps also with the headache, so much so that I don’t stop until I’ve used up the entire packet of wipes.

With my head a little clearer, I search for my phone and unlock the screen. Eight fifteen in the morning. There’s an unhealthy number of missed calls and messages waiting to be answered. Later. My temples are still pounding. I open the map app to check where in the world I am exactly. The little blue dot stops on Brooklyn Heights.

What the hell am I doing in Brooklyn? How did I get here? Whose house is this?

Time to find out.

Still sitting on the bed, I put on the silky turquoise dress I was wearing last night—perfect for a proposal, not so much for a morning-after commute from Brooklyn. There’s nothing I can do about the hair, so I scrunch the red tangles in a messy-for-real bun and stand up.

The room spins. I blink several times to fight the dizziness and shake my legs until the dress’s skirt slithers into place, reaching my knees. Shoes in one hand, bag in the other, I drag my feet to the door and tentatively exit the bedroom to enter… a cool loft. One of those with brick walls and modern furniture.

Feeling like a burglar, I slip my pumps on and shuffle into an open-space living room with floor-to-ceiling windows.

“Hello?” My voice sounds thick.

“Morning,” someone says. A male someone. “I was starting to worry you were dead.”

“I thought I was d—” My throat catches as a guy in jeans and a light blue shirt comes out from behind a pillar. He’s so good-looking I literally can’t talk. Rumpled dark hair on the longish side. Dark brown—almost black—eyes, a strong jaw covered in five o’clock shadow, and he’s smiling at me. A little sexy dimple on each cheek. My stomach flips.

Is it the smile or the hangover?

But the real question is, did I have sex with this hunk? Well, I woke up in his bed wearing only underwear. I hope we did it. And I hope he wants to do it again because I can’t remember a thing and the guy is too handsome for me to leave, not remembering having sex with him.

Eeeeee, somebody please censor my brain. Never in my life would I have had sex with someone I just met—but that was the whole point of throwing out the list and getting crazy drunk. If this man is the first outcome of my new lifestyle, high five to me. But how embarrassing not to remember if we slept together. What do I do? Do I ask him? I don’t even know his name!

“Er, Blair?” he says. “Are you all right?”

Mr. Hot knows my name. “Yeah, super… mmm… uh…”

“Richard.” He smiles again. “The name’s Richard Stratton. I made coffee, you want some?”

If he wasn’t already hot enough, the dude has an impossibly sexy British accent that’s making my knees wobble. Either the accent or serious dehydration.

“Richard, sure.” I pretend like he needn’t have told me his name. “Coffee would be great, thanks.” I stroll to the kitchen bar, sit on a stool, and drop my bag to the floor.

“Black? Sugar? Milk?”

“Sugar equals poison,” I declare. “Do you happen to have almond milk?”

Richard’s eyes widen.

“Black’s fine,” I hurry to say.

Mr. Hot hands me a mug. “You didn’t seem to have a problem with the sugar rim of your cocktails last night.”

“About that…” I take a sip of coffee, hoping caffeine will help my synapses connect. “I’m not exactly sure what… er. To be honest, last night’s a bit—uh—foggy. How did we meet?”

“I called you.”

“You called me?”

I have to kill the parrot possessing me and stop repeating whatever people say.

“Mm-hmm.”

“How? Did I give you my number?” I think I’d remember giving my number to someone as hot as him.

“No, I got it through a friend of mine.”

I frown. “A friend?”

The parrot lives.

“Yes, I’m the Editor-in-Chief of an up and coming web-based magazine. We’re looking for a Fashion Editor—”

I hear magazine, I hear fashion, and the other shoe drops. He’s gay. Ninety-five percent of Évoque male employees are gay. “Oh, you’re gay,” I interrupt him, a bit crestfallen. “Of course you’re gay. That face is too handsome for you to be straight. I mean between the hair, the eyes, and the smile you’d have to go around with an I’m-too-hot warning sticker on your chest…” I’m babbling and Richard’s eyebrows have shot up. Blair, shut up. But I’m possessed, and can’t stop talking. “And that accent! Imagine what it would do to women. You sound like Prince William. Well, at least now I don’t have to ask you if we slept together last night…” I brush my hand over my forehead in a gesture of relief and laugh nervously. “Phew.”

Richard stares at me dumbfounded for a few seconds before saying, “I thought I made it clear last night I wasn’t gay.” His tone is dead serious.

Something in my guts twists. “You mean we”—I point at my chest and then at his—“slept together?”

“No, we didn’t. I was mocking you.”

“But I woke up in your bed in my underwear.”

“I left you in my room with your clothes on. You must’ve done the undressing.”

“Oh, so you are gay.”

“No, I’m not gay.” He scoffs. “It’s just that so-drunk-she-can’t-remember-her-name doesn’t do it for me.”

I’m too mortified to speak, so I hide my red-beyond-control cheeks by staring at the floor.

“Last night,” Richard continues, “I called you to talk about a job opportunity, and you told me to join you in a bar in downtown Manhattan. When I got there, you were already drunk and delirious about a list, spaghetti marinara, and someone’s secretary…”

I’m feeling smaller and smaller. From under my lids, I dare a peek at Richard.

“When we left the bar, I tried to put you in a cab to get you home, but you weren’t able to supply an address. So it was either leave you on the street or bring you back here.”

“Oh, okay.” I drop the empty coffee mug on the bar and get up. “Sorry for all the trouble I caused and thank you for… mmm…” Giving me a bed to sleep in instead of the curb? Saving my life? Making me believe for five seconds that we had sex? I go with, “For hosting me last night. I’ll get out of your way now.” I pick up my bag from the floor and… I’ve no idea where the exit is. “Where’s the door?”

“This way.” Richard leads me to the opposite side of the room and stops in front of a metal door striped with faux rust, or real rust, I’m not sure. Cool, design rust in any case. “About that job interview,” he adds. “You want to reschedule?”

“You still want to interview me?”

“You look suspicious.”

Not look, am. “I don’t mean to be rude, but if you’re still considering me for a job after last night’s stunt and this morning’s conversation, you must be desperate.”

His jaw tightens. “I’m not desperate.”

“So what’s your magazine’s circulation?” I challenge.

“It’s an online-only editorial hub; we hardly have any circulation.”

“You’ve no printed edition?”

“No.”

“Alexa rank?”

Richard holds my gaze for a couple of seconds before answering, “In the lower thousands. But most of our traffic comes from in-app views, with no ad blocking, and we want it to stay that way.”

“As I said, you’re desperate.”

“Well, from what I gathered last night, so are you.”

Ouch. Below the belt, Richard. Way below the belt. What else did I tell him while I was drunk as a skunk? Probably better I don’t remember.

“Listen.” He rolls up the sleeves of his shirt, and I get distracted looking at his forearms. He has really pretty forearms. Correction: he has really pretty everything. “I don’t claim to be Évoque Magazine, but I’m working on making something fresh. Something better. I’ve put together a great team, so before you snub us, why don’t you hear me out?” Richard takes a business card out of his pocket and hands it over.

As he comes closer, I get a whiff of that same pinecones and rain scent I smelled in the bedroom. His scent. So Richard was my cold winter day. The combination of shower gel or aftershave plus male skin is intoxicating. I bite the inside of my cheek to keep focused and take the card. “Thank you.”

“Go home, take a shower, and come back to check us out at the address on the card. This afternoon, tomorrow morning. Whenever works.” Before I can politely decline he adds, “If nothing else, stop by so you can see my too-handsome face one more time,” and winks.

My mouth hangs open, and my face sizzles in shame for the millionth time since I woke up. “You know you can’t use anything I said while I thought you were gay against me.”

“Nice try.” Richard gives me a wicked smile and opens the door. “See you later?”

I scold him on the way out. “Maybe.”

“This way.”

He guides me down the hall in silence until we reach the elevators. There, I push the down arrow and wait. When the doors sweep open, I briskly step inside, push the lobby button, and say, “Goodbye.”

Richard braces both arms against the doorframe. “I’ll see you soon,” he says, stepping backward, and, as the doors begin to move adds, “And I’ll work on finding that sticker.”

The doors close so that I’m left staring at my shocked, beet-red face reflected in the metal.

Check out the full tour-

July 13th

Rachel Brimble Romance – Author Q&A
A Beautiful Book Blog – Book Review
Writing Pearls – Book Review
With Love For Books – Book Review
For the Love of Chick Lit – Book Review
July 14th

Kristin’s Novel Cafe – Book Excerpt
JenaBooks – Book Review
He Said Books or Me – Author Guest Post
Judging More than Just the Cover – Author Q&A
July 15th

I Heart Fictional People – Book Review
Chrissi Reads – Book Review
Books and Photographs – Book Review
Rebecca Book Review – Book Excerpt
Monique McDonell-Author  – Book Excerpt
July 16th

One Book At A Time – Spotlight Post
CosyCuteKnits – Book Review
The Writing Garnet – Book Review
July 17th

The Belgian Reviewer – Book Excerpt
Girl vs Books – Book Review
kraftireader – Book Review

July 18th

Reading Is My SuperPower – Book Review
I Heart Fictional People – Book Review
THE CHLOE DOUGLAS BLOG – Book Review
July 19th

Kristin’s Novel Café – Book Excerpt
Simona’s Corner of Dreams – Author Guest Post
Bookish – Book Review
July 20th

TheBlossomTwins – Book Review
Grass Monster – Book Review
Chick Lit Central – Author Q&A
Living Life with Joy – Author Guest Post
July 21st

ItaPixie’s Book Corner – Book Review
Rae Reads – Book Review
Novelgossip  – Book Review
Whispering Stories – Book Review
Ali – The Dragon Slayer – Book Review
A Daydreamer’s Thoughts – Book Review
Steamy Book Momma – Book Excerpt
July 22nd

BookLoverWorm – Book Review
Pretty Little Book Reviews – Book Review
Book Lover in Florida – Book Excerpt

2017 Book # 57 – Duke with Benefits by Manda Collins

51hiXwy2TSLTitle: Duke with Benefits
Author: Manda Collins
Date finished: 7/10/17
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Studies in Scandal series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

LADY + DUKE = TRUE LOVE?
Lady Daphne Forsyth is a brilliant mathematician with a burning passion for puzzles. When she learns that the library belonging to her benefactress houses the legendary Cameron Cipher—an encrypted message that, once solved, holds the key to great riches—Daphne is on the case. Unfortunately, her race to unlock the cipher’s code is continually thwarted by a deliciously handsome distraction she hadn’t counted on. . .and cannot resist.
Dalton Beauchamp, the Duke of Maitland, is curious as to why Daphne is spending so much time snooping around his aunt’s bookshelves. He’s even more intrigued by her bold yet calculating manner: She is unapologetic about her secret quest. . .and the fiery attraction that develops between them both. But how can they concentrate on solving a perplexing enigma once the prospect of true love enters the equation?

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Daphne Forsyth, daughter of the Earl of Forsyth, and Dalton Beauchamp, the Duke of Maitland. Daphne is one of the recent inheritors of the Duke’s aunt’s estate, left to a group of four woman scholars. Daphne’s scholarly focus is  mathematics, which is why Lady Celeste left Daphne with a specific task. Lady Celeste knew of a clue to a hidden treasure, a cipher dating back hundreds of years. Knowing of Daphne’s skills with ciphers, Lady Celeste left it to Daphne to unravel the clue and find the treasure. But not before trying to play matchmaker once again in asking her nephew (Maitland) to help Daphne find the clues to the hidden cipher. Lady Celeste had been similarly stealthy in Book 1 (Ready Set Rogue) in getting Ivy and Kerr together. But when someone else finds out about the cipher, someone who is willing to do anything to obtain it including murder, Daphne must solve the mystery before anyone else gets hurt. And along the way, Maitland discovers that beneath Daphne’s brusque exterior, there is a heart of gold.
Overall I liked this book. It was a quick and easy read, but was full of romance and danger and mathematical challenges. I love this series overall because the heroines are all so strong and intelligent. I loved that Maitland’s character understood Daphne’s need for independence and respected it, acting more as a support for her than a driver. Some heroes in historical romances can get a little heavy-handed, so it was refreshing to see this change of pace. And Daphne’s character as well was slightly unusual for a historical romance, I think she might be diagnosed with something similar to Asperger’s in today’s day and age based on her inability to look people in the eye, her dislike at being touched, and her difficulties with understanding social interactions. Altogether made for a pretty interesting read. I liked this book and I look forward to reading more in the series. I would recommend!

The bottom line: This was a really good book, I liked the story line and it was a quick and easy read. I like the series overall too, I would recommend!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page